Buzzing, clean and green are the first words that would come to your mind when you visit this Kenyan capital for the first time. I hadn’t formed an image of Nairobi in my mind, before my visit. So, I knew that I would take in all that the city had to offer me, creating multiple memories. This city has adapted the new modern western culture while retaining their colonial architecture and infrastructure.
Nairobi has its fair share of wide roads, but there are an equal number of narrow by-lanes, which lead to a lot of traffic woes. Alongside the plush bungalows and apartments, are the poverty ridden slums and hutments. Economic disparity is quite visible in Nairobi, away from the city centre.
It is highly recommended to take a one-night stop in Nairobi before you move onto your next destination. There are several places that you can visit, while you’re in town. Nairobi provides for a good warm up to the wild African adventure that awaits you.
The Giraffe Centre is located approximately 20 kilometers from the city center. The center was built to protect the endangered Giraffe, which is only found in the grasslands of East Africa. The Giraffe Centre is open from 9 am to 5 pm, all seven days of the week. There are feeding tours throughout the day, which are covered in the cost of the entry ticket (KES 1,500 for non-resident adults).
For adult: KES 1500
For child: KES 750
If you are in Nairobi for more than a day, then it makes sense to visit the Nairobi National Park, 10-minutes away from the city-center. This park is also a rhino sanctuary and perhaps one of the few which is so dangerously close to the main city. The park has several picnic spots, where a number of activities are conducted; team building exercises, wedding shoots, corporate events, bush dinners, etc.
For adult: USD 43
For child: USD 22
Located at the main gate of the Nairobi National Park, this orphan elephants’ rescue center is an adorable sight that every animal lover will like. This center was founded by Daphne Sheldrick in memory of her late husband, David who was the former warden of Tsavo East National Park. The center cares for abandoned young elephants and rhinos and works towards sending them back in to the wild.
Per person: KES 500
Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa lived in the place which houses this museum, where she ran a coffee plantation. Today you can take a tour of this marvelous farmhouse, the coffee drying plant which will probably transport you back to the colonial era.
For adult: KES 1200
For child: KES 600
The Nairobi National Museum will take you on an educational and cultural history tour of Kenyan flora-faunas, fossils and local tribes. A combination ticket for the adjacent Snake park can also be purchased by tourists at the time of entry.
For adult: KES 1200
For child: KES 600
A tourist village in Nairobi, the Bomas of Kenya celebrates the various cultures of the country. This village is located about 10 km from the city centre and there are several half-day city tours which give the tourists a taste of the local lives. The talented residents perform traditional dances and songs taking inspiration from different Kenyan tribes. The Utamaduni Restaurant in the Bomas of Kenya is one of its kind, providing wholesome only authentic Kenyan menu.
For adult: KES 1000
For child: KES 500
A showpiece to the African culture and heritage, African Heritage House is amongst the most photographed African homes. This house is designed based on combination of mud architecture from across the continent. There are regular sightseeing tours that are organized in this house. Guests can also pre-book their accommodation and stay in luxurious rooms that are filled with African interiors. There are several verandahs in this home which overlook the Nairobi National Park.
KES 4000 for a group of 4
Tusker is a pale lager from Kenya, made from the highest quality malt barley grown in the Rift Valley. Quite light and delicious, Tusker is the largest beer brand in Africa.
Curio shops throughout Kenya are the best places to buy genuine artefacts and African collectibles. They are more on the expensive side due to the intricate craftsmanship. A good bargain can get you a great deal on some unique designs and models. Most curio shops have the similar objects albeit each having some specialty. Zanzibar Curio Shop is amongst the best in Nairobi for souvenir shopping.
International flights arrive at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. It is around 15 km from the city centre. You can easily book pre-paid taxis at the airport. Alternatively, there are several taxis parked at the airport, which you can take to go to your destination.
If you want to be a little adventurous and experience the true local living, then hop on the Matatu – Kenya’s colourful, vibrant and blazing minivan. This is the most commonly used mode of transport in Kenya by locals. Loud music, cramped seats and vividly designed is how you would describe a Matatu. Beware of pickpockets, keep your belongings closer to your chest at all times.
If you have international roaming on your phone, then you can also travel by an Uber in Nairobi. The rates are standard, perhaps cheaper than most western cities. Nairobi is known for its traffic congestion, so don’t wait till the last minute to book your Uber. A 5 minutes wait time can easily turn to 25 minutes.
Before you successfully plan your holiday to Kenya, make sure that you know a few basic things about the country.